Coping with Cabin Fever

Concentrate on what you can do, not on what you cannot do.

It isn’t cold and snowy or rainy everywhere at this time of year, but at some point (and for lots of reasons), every family ends up spending just a bit too much time together inside. Here are ways to make your indoor time together pleasant and productive:

Tips for . . .

  • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Make sure children get as much physical activity during the day as possible. Even if you can’t take them outside or leave your home, children can play and have fun in ways that stretch and move their bodies, such as dancing to music or singing along with a favorite CD.
    • Stretch young minds by reading good books together, listening to books on tape, and playing creative problem-solving games involving simple puzzles.
    • Check out the “play” schedule at your local community center for open gym and recreation times.
    • parents with children ages 6 to 9
    • Look for a regular community activity in which your children can participate. Check out local sports teams, the YMCA/YWCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, parks and recreation departments, community education through the public schools, and local organizations that serve children and families. Other parents, neighbors, and teachers are all great networking sources of information.
    • If neighborhood kids are scarce, be intentional about arranging regular play dates for your children with their friends to allow young friendships to flourish. Invite the parents over for adult socializing, too, as your children play together. Get to know your kids’ friends, and don’t forget to play with the children yourself!
    • parents with children ages 10 to 15
    • Help your preteens and teens identify after-school or out-of-school activities that appeal to them. If your school district doesn’t offer such options, it’s likely that a community organization in your area does. Don’t hesitate to ask about sliding-fee scales and scholarships if expense becomes an issue. The positive benefits of structured activities to both youth and their parents is enormous and worth pursuing.
    • If possible, designate a space in your home for rougher play. Let your kids know that if they need to blow off steam and can’t get outside, this is the place to do it. Chin bars, exercise mats, bouncy balls, and exercise videos are all helpful additions for the indoor season.
    • parents with children ages 16 to 18
    • Together with your teens, learn warm-up stretches and muscle-building activities that don’t require a lot of space. You can try things like yoga positions, push-ups, sit-ups, or slow, basic stretching right in your own home. These activities can help everyone relax and use pent-up energy.
  • Make sure you, too, are getting the time and space you need when you’re confined to the indoors. Sometimes our children can be irritating, not because of their behavior but because of our own attitudes. If you’re feeling restless, plan an activity and schedule a change of scenery for yourself.

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